I’d like to go back in the way back machine to January to January 8, 2022. We celebrated the baptism of Jesus. I spoke of our baptism, of the perks of being baptized.
I would like to repeat a little of my homily that I gave that day, although I know you all remember it so just bear with me:
Through our baptism and inclusion into this magnificent church, we are afforded comfort through the liturgy when we grieve, happiness through the liturgy when we celebrate and a “steady as she goes” comfort through the liturgy when we need boosters of grace along the way. We Belong.Mary Keldermans homily from January 8, 2022
All of us all of us, all of us have been able to participate in all of this because of our baptism. All of these events, the big and the small, have contributed to the people we are today. It is our turn to build up the Body of Christ for our future brothers and sisters as our ancestors have done for us. Do you know why? Because we belong. Because we are the body of Christ.
We say we are the body of Christ, we sing about the body of Christ, we answer “Amen” to the statement Body of Christ when we receive communion. I wonder if we have we used that phrase so often we don’t think of the meaning anymore? Is it something that just rolls off the tips of our tongues? Well, St. Paul gives us an excellent reminder of just what that phrase means, of what it encompasses, of the responsibility we have when we say we are the body of Christ.
The Body of Christ would have been a new teaching back in St. Paul’s day. Christianity was barely a blip on the radar screen and the words “Body of Christ” would have been a brand new concept. Paul, rather brilliantly I think, describes something very familiar, a body as an analogy to what he meant by the body of Christ. For example, if the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? He talked about hands and feet all being part and parcel of each body, each one different, each one vital for the body to be whole and to function. Some of our body part may be seen as less honorable, but then he said, we take even better care of that part. Say, a cast for a broken arm, medication for headaches, physical therapy for uncooperative back muscles. We look out for those parts to help them become whole again.
Then Paul turns to the church saying we individual members are like parts of our bodies. All important, all with a task to do yet all part of the whole. I particularly like hearing Paul describe the different ministries, the different tasks that this body needs in order to function. He talks about teachers and apostles and prophets and healers. What would happen to this body if we were all teachers, or all apostles? Not much of a body! it takes all of us with our different gifts and talents to make this whole body of Christ thing work! And no job, no vocation is better or higher than anyone else.
And what powers all of us working together, to make the body of Christ a work of art? Love. Not the goopy kind of love. Not the “are you going to get me chocolate for Valentine’s Day” love. But the enduring kind the kind where you welcome a stranger, take care of the marginalized, share, pray for the sick, tend your family, volunteer around town, give of your time, talent and treasure not because you have to , but that you feel compelled to, you need to do those things to feel whole.
Now, let’s put that on top of the reading from Jeremiah where God asks Jeremiah to go out and preach about God, to be a prophet, someone who holds a mirror up to the people so they can see themselves. Jeremiah says, who me? I’m just a kid. And of course God doesn’t let Jeremiah get away with that.
“I’ve made you an iron pillar, a bronze wall against the whole land,” God says. “They will fight you but they won’t prevail against you!”
Now you know that old rascal God isn’t just talking to Jeremiah, people throughout the ages are expected to be a prophet for God!
God has made us into an iron pillar, a bronze wall -such great metaphors- so we can be prophets, so we can tell people there is more to God, there is more to community than what the institutional church will allow. How did you get the nerve to buck the Catholic institution to go and find the God you had come to know? How did I ever get the nerve to be ordained a priest? Me, who skipped school one time and was so scared I was going to get caught I hid in a shower in the girls locker room! That is who you have as a pastor! Some of you have even jeopardized your jobs by coming here. What has been behind all that? Love. The deeply felt, compelling urge to do the right thing the right reasons. Love of God. Love of each other. Saturdays are my favorite day of the week because I know we will all be together, either in person or Zoom. I love you people! Yep, Love is what drives the body of Christ.
Homily shared on Saturday, 5 February 2022, by Rev. Mary Keldermans.